OxyContin Maker Cuts Sales Force

Faith Castro
February 12, 2018

A pharmacist holds prescription painkiller OxyContin, 40mg pills, made by Purdue Pharma L.D.at a local pharmacy, in Provo, Utah, U.S., April 25, 2017.

"We have restructured and significantly reduced our commercial operation and will no longer be promoting opioids to prescribers", Purdue said in a statement.

USA deaths linked to opioids have quadrupled since 2000 to roughly 42,000 in 2016, or about 115 lives lost per day.

The drug-maker said it will inform doctors on Monday and that sales reps will no longer be visiting physician offices to discuss opioid products.

The lawsuits have generally accused Purdue of downplaying OxyContin's addiction risk and of misleading marketing that overstated the benefits of opioids for treating chronic, rather than short-term, pain.

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Doctors with opioid-related questions will be directed to its medical affairs department.

"The genie is already out of the bottle", said Dr. Andrew Kolodny, director of opioid policy research at Brandeis University and an advocate for stronger regulation of opioid drug companies. Purdue Pharma is the first major opioid drug maker to end the practice of marketing painkillers to medical professionals, reports Bloomberg. Purdue sold the drug by trying to convince Doctors that previous concerns regarding opioid addiction and abuse had been overdone and resulted in patient pain and discomfort that could have been effectively treated. Many of those overdoses are attributed to other opioids, including fentanyl and heroin, which OxyContin users often switch to after becoming addicted to the painkiller. It has said its drugs are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and account for only 2 percent of all opioid prescriptions.

"Overall, the impact will be small because the genie is out of the bottle", Kolodny said.

Purdue's sales representatives will now focus on the Symproic drug created to treat opioid-induced constipation, and other non-opioid products.

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